Big upsets earn this week's nods for best performances

Updated: December 31, 2007

AP Photo/Deborah Cannon

Michael Flowers scored just seven points against Texas, but the three most important points came with four seconds left in the game.

Player of the Week: Brian Roberts, Dayton

Last week: 31 points on 10-for-17 shooting (5-for-8 on 3s) and five assists in an 80-55 win over No. 6 Pitt

Brian Roberts becomes the first two-time Weekly Watch Player of the Week this season for his dominating performance in an 80-55 win over an injury-riddled Pitt team.

Roberts scored 31 points and put together another stellar effort against a Big East team. He also earned player of the week honors after he scored 28 points in a win at Louisville on Dec. 8.

Pitt coach Jamie Dixon said Roberts is easily one of the top shooters in the country, and it's easy to see why. He's shooting 49.3 percent on 3s (37-of-75) and 50.3 percent overall, which is outstanding for a perimeter player.

Dayton (11-1) already has two wins over Big East teams -- one on the road and one at home -- and two more true road wins at Holy Cross and at Miami (Ohio). But we'll know a lot more about the Flyers within the first three weeks of the A-10 season with games against Rhode Island, UMass and at Xavier in three of the first four league games.

Dayton's win over Pitt means that the Flyers are primed to earn a bid to the NCAA Tournament, barring a complete collapse in the A-10.

Team of the Week: Wisconsin Badgers

Last week: Beat No. 9 Texas 67-66 in the Erwin Center

Michael Flowers' 3-pointer to beat Texas -- on a day the Badgers learned they would be without their starting guard Trevon Hughes because of an ankle injury -- was the most significant shot in Saturday's action.

The win for Wisconsin may ultimately be an NCAA Tournament-entering victory. Wisconsin lost at Duke, fell to Marquette at home and beat two teams -- Colorado and Georgia -- that have nice-sounding names but aren't heading for the NCAAs. So, the Badgers were in desperate need of one win against an NCAA team.

Beating Texas in Austin assures them of having an impressive win on their NCAA résumé. Now, the trick will be to win games in the Big Ten that they should win if they are a true contender. Starting out at Michigan, Iowa, Illinois, at Penn State, Northwestern, Michigan and at Purdue before facing Indiana in Bloomington on Feb. 13 sets up the Badgers nicely if they can play to their potential. If they win games they should in the Big Ten, then the win over Texas will matter on Selection Sunday.

3-Point Shot

Mike Cook

AP Photo/Julie Jacobson

Pitt lost Mike Cook (ACL) and Levance Fields (eight to 12 weeks with a broken foot) in nine days.

1. If bad news comes in threes, the worst should be over for Pitt. After looking like a Final Four-caliber team with a comeback win over Duke in Madison Square Garden, Pitt has suddenly fallen on the hardest of times. In addition to losing Mike Cook to a torn knee (all three ligaments), Pitt will be without Levance Fields for 8-12 weeks with a broken bone in his left foot, and Ronald Ramon hurt his shoulder in a collision during the Panthers' 80-55 loss at Dayton on Saturday. The ironic thing is Pitt had escaped major injury issues during both Ben Howland's and Jamie Dixon's runs at Pitt. Now, with a beautifully blended team with talent, experience and spectacular youth, Pitt heads into the Big East with only one on-the-court loss but numerous questions that did not exist a mere two weeks ago.

2. Speaking of Dayton, Brian Roberts has done it again. In addition to 31 points and five assists against Pitt, Roberts also had 28 points against Louisville in one of three true road wins for the Flyers. Coach Brian Gregory may want to rethink how he prepares for a big game, since a 25-point win on national television may chase away any future big-time opponent from traveling to UD Arena. In a fashion mirroring his mentor, Tom Izzo, Gregory was effusive in his praise of 10-2 Akron, Jeremiah Wood and Nick Dials, Dayton's next opponent. Relax, Coach.

Dayton is playing great, and the next month will determine just how good this team can be as the Flyers face the Zips, St. Louis twice, Rhode Island twice, UMass at home and a roadie to rival Xavier on Jan. 24. As a side note, I hope you saw Roberts on Saturday, since that is Dayton's last game scheduled on ESPN. Roberts goes from being the best player no one talks about to being the best player people talk about and never get to see.

3. Anyone else not sure of Gonzaga's postseason future? The Zags have yet to beat a tournament team. Also, it will be an emotional night Monday for former Utah head coach and current Zags assistant, Ray Giacoletti, as the Zags host the Utes. Tyler Kepkay, who led junior colleges in scoring last season with 27.9 points, is coming on strong for the vastly improved Utes.

And One. Remember the "We got Tommy" chant from Harvard as the Crimson beat Michigan a month ago? Harvard has lost all seven games since.

Niagara's Charron Fisher, who is second in the country in scoring with 27.0 points, had 25 points and 26 points as Niagara beat Morgan State and Santa Clara to win the Cable Car Classic in San Jose, Calif.

Huge game Wednesday as Steve Alford's surprising New Mexico Lobos (12-2) travel to El Paso, Texas, where UTEP (9-2) is waiting. The Philly-born twosome of Stefon Jackson (ballin' to the tune of 25.5 points per game) and Marvin Kilgore (11.8 points, 5.4 assists and 4.1 rebounds) is waiting for J.R. Giddens and his New Mexico teammates to come to the wild Don Haskins Center.

Upset Watch

Scouts Inc.'s Reggie Rankin takes a look at two upsets that could happen this week:

Jeremy Pargo

Jim Rogash/Getty Images

Jeremy Pargo has game-breaking ability, but he was just 1 of 7 from the field against Tennessee.

Monday: Utah over Gonzaga, 8 p.m. ET
First-year Utah head coach Jim Boylen has installed one of the best team defensive packages in the country from his days as an assistant at Michigan State under Tom Izzo. The Utes are improving steadily, and the "five players guarding the ball" defensive philosophy is the foundation. On offense, the inside-out attack is built around 7-1 center Luke Nevill, who gets multiple touches on the block and leads the Utes in scoring and rebounding. The perimeter is controlled by guards Johnnie Bryant and Tyler Kepkay, who both can light it up from 3-point land to stretch the defense and give Nevill room to work. The well-traveled Zags are coming off an exhausting loss to Tennessee in Seattle on Saturday. Center Josh Heytvelt is back from ankle surgery and improving rapidly as he had 12 points in 24 minutes against the Vols. Guard Matt Bouldin dropped 21 points and kept things close for a while, but even he had been nursing a calf pull and sprained ankle recently. Jeremy Pargo has game-breaking scoring ability and will need to be ultra-aggressive, along with skilled freshman Austin Daye, to hold off the Utes. Utah beat a good California team in Berkeley and Idaho State on Dec. 27 to run its record to 8-3, which should provide confidence as it heads to Spokane.

Wednesday: Kent State over North Carolina, ESPN, 8 p.m. ET
In five years as head coach, Jim Christian has had five 20-win seasons. Even though the Golden Flashes have quality wins over Saint Louis and George Mason, going to Chapel Hill to tangle with the Tar Heels is another level. UNC will apply relentless pressure defensively. The Heels use great ball pressure and force the ball handlers, especially on the wing, into a baseline trap. After made baskets and timeouts, the half-court run-and-jump trap can start North Carolina's game-breaking run, especially in the Dean Dome. Tyler Hansbrough is a scouting report headache, and point guard Ty Lawson is a one-man fast break. But the Golden Flashes are a tough-minded defensive team, and they do a great job of taking care of the basketball, which they must continue to do to have any chance. If Kent can make the Heels play more in the half court, shoot contested shots, and keep a body glued to Hansbrough on the boards, the game could get interesting. Kent forwards Mike Hall and Haminn Quaintance handle the bulk of the scoring and rebounding, and Al Fisher produces double-figure points on the perimeter. Is it possible to catch UNC looking ahead to the ACC opener on Sunday against Clemson on the road?

Tyrese Rice

AP Photo/Steven Senne

Boston College's Tyrese Rice is a scoring point guard who leads the young Eagles.

Saturday: Boston College over No. 3 Kansas, ESPN, 12 p.m. ET
The loaded Jayhawks go to Chestnut Hill for a major test against the BC Eagles. Kansas sophomore forward Darrell Arthur leads five double-figure scorers. KU excels in the open court with guards Mario Chalmers, Sherron Collins and Russell Robinson. On the wings, Brandon Rush and Rodrick Stewart are the high-rise finishers. In the half court, they Jayhawks attack with a variety of ball screens and high/low post-ups for forward Darnell Jackson and center Sasha Kaun. On defense, Kansas opponents have trouble handling the pressure man that is keeping them under 60 points per game. BC will counter with four double-digit scorers of its own, with scoring point guard Tyrese Rice leading the charge. The Eagles' flex offense has been perfected by head coach Al Skinner. Strong post-ups for forward Shamari Spears and down screens for freshman guard Rakim Sanders and forward Corey Raji -- who both have been major contributors from day one -- give BC a chance to shake up the rankings.

Saturday: Washington over No. 4 Washington State, 10 p.m. ET
The Huskies will attempt to get their transition game in high gear when they open Pac-10 play at home against intrastate rival Washington State. In the half court, UW depends on double-double forward Jon Brockman to be its go-to guy. Guards Ryan Appleby and Justin Dentmon, along with Venoy Overton, do a good job of sharing the ball and making sure Brockman gets plenty of post feeds when they can't pick up an easy fast-break basket. The Cougars will attempt to slow the tempo and allow their man defense -- which is holding opponents to under 50 points per game -- to prevent easy baskets. On offense, guards Derrick Low and Kyle Weaver direct the motion offense and make sure that center Aron Baynes and forward Robbie Cowgill get rewarded with touches. If the Huskies can put together a couple of timely runs and make Washington State play from behind on the road, I like their chances.


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Dayton rocks Pitt at home

Flowers' late 3 drops Texas in a thriller's Mid-Major Top 10

1. Butler
2. Dayton
3. Xavier
4. Houston
5. Rhode Island
6. UMass
8. Illinois State
9. Drake
10. BYU

Troubling times ...

Illinois: Let's face it, the Illini are clearly looking like an NIT/CBI team right now after losing yet another home game. The Miami (Ohio) loss is respectable, but dropping a 60-58 decision to Tennessee State at home on Sunday will sting for a while.

Missouri: The Tigers better get some work done in the Big 12. No one said winning at Mississippi State would be an easy chore. But Miami (Fla.) and Clemson did it, and if the committee ends up comparing teams, Missouri loses out. The Tigers also lost at Cal and Arkansas.

-- Andy Katz,

Résumé building

Oklahoma: The loss at home to Stephen F. Austin on Dec. 8 is being negated by the recent run of wins over Arkansas on Dec. 15, Gonzaga on Dec. 20 and West Virginia in double-overtime in Charleston, W.Va., on Sunday. The two losses -- to Memphis in New York and at USC -- aren't an issue for a bid. The Sooners are positioned nicely with two to play going into the Big 12 with a likely 12-3 mark.

Butler: The win at Southern Illinois is yet another nonconference win away from home (eight so far) that should bode well for seeding in March.

Ole Miss: Andy Kennedy is in the clubhouse for national coach of the year through the first two months of the season. The Rebels' 12-0 mark was capped off by a 20-point smackdown of Southern Miss.

-- Andy Katz,

Graves' 30-foot heave knocks off SIU

Impressive wins

Florida State: The injury-riddled Seminoles used essentially five players for 30-plus minutes (two others played single digits), with four guards getting the bulk of the minutes, to win at Georgia Tech in Sunday night's ACC opener for both teams. Florida State proved that it will still be a factor in the ACC, while the Yellow Jackets look more like a second-division squad in the league at this juncture.

NC State: The Wolfpack won two games last week -- at Seton Hall and over Western Carolina -- after point guard Farnold Degand tore his ACL.

Illinois State: Former coach Porter Moser said after he got fired that he was returning a potential Missouri Valley Conference champ. Well, new coach Tim Jankovich took the Redbirds and won at Creighton by 13 on Saturday.

-- Andy Katz,

Quality performances

Brandon Johnson, San Diego: The junior guard lit up Kentucky for 27 points, including 3-of-5 3s, at Rupp Arena.

J.J. Hickson, NC State: He continues to be one of the top freshmen who doesn't get enough ink. The forward had 33 points on 10-of-11 shooting and 13-of-16 free-throw shooting with 13 boards and three blocks against Western Carolina.

Brook Lopez, Stanford: Lopez registered the first of what could be many double-doubles in the next two months with 19 points and 12 boards in a win over Fresno State.

Blake Griffin, Oklahoma: The freshman forward pounded away at West Virginia for a double-double (18 points and 16 boards), his second straight (he had 15 and 14 in a win over Gonzaga).

-- Andy Katz,

San Diego knocks off Kentucky in Rupp

OU wins a double-overtime thriller over West Virginia

Twenty questions with the games this week

1. Will Kansas State pluck a much-needed win against Xavier in Cincinnati's U.S. Bank Arena on Monday (ESPNU, 7 p.m. ET)?

2. Can Eddie Sutton get win No. 799 when San Francisco plays at Utah Valley State on Monday?

3. Will Houston pull off a solid road win at UMass on Wednesday night?

4. How much of a role will Gary Johnson play in his debut for Texas against TCU on Wednesday (ESPN Full Court, 5 p.m. ET)?

5. Can West Virginia establish itself as a formidable Big East player at Notre Dame on Thursday (ESPN2, 7 p.m. ET)?

6. Can Providence pull off the upset and win at Marquette on Thursday (ESPN Full Court, 9 p.m. ET)?

7. Can Xavier ensure an ACC team doesn't win in the Cintas Center and beat back Virginia on Thursday?

8. Will Arizona State make sure it's a contender and not a pretender to finish in the upper half of the Pac-10 by starting out with a win over Oregon on Thursday (ESPN Full Court, 9 p.m. ET)?

9. Can USC win at Cal on Thursday?

10. How will Kevin Love handle Brook Lopez when UCLA goes to Stanford on Thursday?

11. How dominant will Kansas look at Boston College on Saturday (ESPN, 12 p.m. ET)?

12. Will Notre Dame start out 2-0 in the Big East by beating Marquette on Thursday and Connecticut at home Saturday (ESPN, 9 p.m. ET)?

13. How will Arizona handle Oregon's guards without Jerryd Bayless playing for the Cats on Saturday?

14. Could UCLA possibly start out 0-2 in the Pac-10 by losing to Stanford and Cal this week?

15. Could the same apply to USC on the road trip?

16. How will Patrick Mills of Saint Mary's fare against D.J. Augustin of Texas on Saturday (ESPN Full Court, 6 p.m. ET) in Austin?

17. Will Washington State continue to own Washington in the Pac-10 tip-off on Saturday?

18. Does a depleted Pitt have a chance at Villanova on Sunday (ESPN Full Court, 12 p.m. ET)?

19. Can Marquette establish itself as a Big East favorite by knocking off West Virginia in Morgantown on Sunday (ESPN Full Court, 2 p.m. ET)?

20. Will Clemson pull off a headline-grabbing, shelf-life win by beating North Carolina at home on Sunday night?

-- Andy Katz,